ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - The demand for cocoa remains high, with increasing consumption of cocoa products by emerging economies which is expected to increase in the coming decades.
However, the cost of producing the beans continues to increase, yields are declining and the negative impacts of climate change continue to threaten the already poor smallholder cocoa farmers.
The cocoa sector has also seen very limited innovations and new investments while cocoa trees and farmers continue to age.
“One of the impacts of this dwindling productivity is the removal of shade trees from farms and the expansion of cocoa cultivation into areas of rainforest,” said Harm Duiker, Country Director of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation. “As a result, globally, cocoa is counted among the major driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss”.
As a forest shade grown tree, cocoa is a crop that thrives in areas of high biodiversity and tropical forests landscapes.
Farmers and scientists alike recognize that shade trees are vital to reducing both ecological and economic risks, including maintenance of soil fertility and moisture, weed suppression and pest and disease control.
They also acknowledge shade trees play an important role in climate adaption in cocoa system.
However, there is increasing demand for scientific evidence of ecological and economic benefits of trees in cocoa systems.
Recent studies have contested the benefits claimed to be associated with cocoa agroforestry, including mitigating adverse climate effects, pathogen or disease regulation, and more importantly improvements in soil fertility.
The Cocoa Dialogue
The national dialogue on cocoa agroforestry systems therefore had the objective of consolidating evidence-based ecological and economic benefits of cocoa agroforestry systems, identifying gaps in knowledge and to ensure consistency in promoting cocoa agroforestry science, policy and practice in Ghana.
It was organised by SNV Ghana in collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board, the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, KNUST and International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
The event attracted experts who observed that gaps in science and practice, and inconsistencies in the promotion of cocoa agroforestry as well as land and tree tenure bottlenecks constitute major challenges to the rapid adoption of cocoa agroforestry systems among smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana.
They called for increased research to fill the gaps in evidence-base science and the practice of cocoa agroforestry systems in Ghana.
Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Ahia Clottey, the Deputy Director Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), reiterated COCOBOD’s commitment to promoting cocoa agroforestry under its recently launched cocoa rehabilitation project.
He said the current programme targets only 156,400ha out of the 700,000 total rehabilitation need of the entire cocoa landscape of Ghana.
He therefore called for stakeholders’ investment into cocoa rehabilitation in order to increase productivity of current land under cultivation in Ghana.
Expert presentations and discussions were made on the current state of knowledge on soil improvement, soil nutrient and water competition, disease and pest control, trees species recommendation in shaded cocoa systems.
According to Prof. Boateng Kyeremeh from the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, KNUST, the realities of climate change vis-a-vis sustainability show the importance of holding the national dialogue to help farmers built resilience.
He believes Ghana’s cocoa industry should be able to meet the challenges imposed by climate change with scientific support and political will.
Building Resilient Smallholder Systems
The national dialogue forms part of activities under the Shaded Cocoa Agroforestry System (SCAFS) project, being implemented by SNV with funding support from the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
SNV supports cocoa agroforestry as a model towards more diversified and resilient smallholder systems that can help to increase and secure production in the long term with ecological benefits.
“This is important to smallholder cocoa farmers that are affected sometimes by highly volatile global prices and by climate change,” said Harm Duiker.
He indicated that cocoa agroforestry practices come at a cost to smallholder farmers and a deeper understanding of the processes in cocoa agroforestry systems will help to promote its benefits to smallholder farmers.
The national dialogue on cocoa agroforestry systems was attended by academia and research institutions, private license cocoa buying companies, farmer’ representatives, non-governmental organizations and representatives from the public.
ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Twenty-seven nations across Africa have now committed to restore 111 million hectares of degraded land as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) and the Bonn Challenge – exceeding the 100-million-hectare AFR100 target.
In realizing these commitments, countries will spur climate resilience, economic growth and more.
AFR100 was launched in 2015 in response to the African Union (AU) mandate to bring 100 million hectares of land into restoration by 2030. The initiative is led by the African Union’s NEPAD Agency in partnership with 27 participating countries, 27 technical and 12 financial partners. Founding partners include NEPAD, the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), World Resources Institute (WRI), GIZ, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the World Bank.
During the 3rd Annual AFR100 Partners Meeting in Nairobi this August, member country representatives, as well as technical and financial partners supporting implementation, reaffirmed that the initiative is a powerful lever to bring forest landscape restoration to scale.
“It is a testament to the continuing political will to restore landscapes across Africa that the AFR100 partnership has exceeded its 100-million-hectare target in commitments. We must sustain this momentum and move from pledges to implementation. There are already many examples of restoration success underway in African communities from which we can collectively learn, to realize these commitments,” said Wanjira Mathai, Senior Advisor, WRI and Co-Chair, Global Restoration Council.
In the margins of the meeting, two countries pledged to restore a combined 19.6 million hectares of land towards the 100-million-hectare target: Burkina Faso (5 million hectares) and the Republic of Sudan (14.6 million hectares). These pledges follow commitments made by Togo (1.4 million hectares) and Tanzania (5.2 million hectares) in the weeks prior to the meeting.
“Sudan is delighted to be able to commit to restore 14.6 million hectares of degraded land as part of AFR100. Restoration in Sudan will support in the reduction of youth immigration and food security for the poorest communities, as well as help the country to respond to international commitments,” said Ali Hamid Osman, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the Sudan Sustainable Natural Resources Management Project and Sudan’s AFR100 Focal Point.
“The fight against desertification and land degradation is a major challenge for Burkina Faso's sustainable development and economic vitality. Our 5-million-hectare commitment to the AFR100 Initiative will improve food security and create more robust livelihoods, both of which are conducive to resilient restoration and productive agro-ecosystems. In our context, special attention and effort should be given to sustainable employment and entrepreneurship for young people and women, to provide economic opportunities through the restoration of our lands and forests,” added Adama Doulkom, Coordinator of the Great Green Wall Initiative for the Sahara and the Sahel, Burkina Faso.
“Indeed, of all the Bonn Challenge’s regional platforms, AFR100 is the most successful, contributing over half of the current global commitment of 170 million hectares. Ideas can only take root if they are owned and while many have contributed to this momentum we must recognize the fundamental role that NEPAD has played in making this an African led and owned initiative, and particularly the inspiring work of Mamadou Diakhite and his team.” stated Stewart Maginnis, Global Director, Nature-based Solutions Group, IUCN.
Restoration is widely understood as a key pathway to meet climate change, desertification, biodiversity and sustainable development goals in Africa, and to secure vital food, water, and energy resources.
“In times of ever-increasing pressure on land, water, and biodiversity, the restoration of degraded forests and lands is more urgent than ever. Bringing back trees into the land offers multiple benefits for sustainable development, the fight against poverty and hunger, for conserving biodiversity and for adaptation to climate change. Restoration is spectacular in that every $1 invested there is the potential for $27-$35 in return. Seeing communities who restore their land reap a share of their restoration proceeds, is an honour,” said Mamadou Diakhite, Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM) Team Leader at the NEPAD Agency, home to the AFR100 Secretariat.
“It was a great success that the Global Landscapes Forum conference in Nairobi took place back-to-back with the third annual AFR100 partners meeting at the end of August there. We have sent a strong signal for the integration of reforestation, restoration and sustainable rural development. The broad concept of landscape restoration provides us with strong ideas in the fight against hunger and poverty through implementing the entire Agenda 2030 – and mainly SDG2 (zero hunger) and SDG15 (life on land),” said Bernhard Worm, Senior Policy Officer at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Participants of the recent AFR100 meeting also endorsed the motion to have the United Nations
General Assembly (UNGA) declare a UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, first proposed in March 2018 by El Salvador’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources – intended to increase the visibility of and resourcing for countries’ restoration efforts.
Nairobi, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Eleven different African institutions have come together through a consortium to build capacities of African scientists who are researching on common diseases, especially those that are transmitted from livestock to human and vice versa through a concept known as ‘One health.’
“Many times we treat tuberculosis in humans, but it doesn’t work because it is originating from livestock animals,” said Dr Bassirou Bonfoh, the Director for the consortium also known as African Science Partnership for Intervention Research Excellence (ASPIRE).
“One health concept therefore recognises that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment, and must therefore be tackled wholesomely,” said Bonfoh.
One Health is therefore defined as a collaborative, multisectoral, and trans-disciplinary approach -working at the local, regional, national, and global levels - with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
The consortium is currently supporting 60 young African scientists (Master, PhD students and Postdocs) who are currently researching on different diseases that include TB, brucellosis, rabies among many others.
From Kenya for example, James Akoko is one of the fellows studying brucellosis for his PhD at Maseno University.
Brucellosis is one of the neglected diseases, and it is transmitted from livestock to humans through poor meat handling, consumption of unpasteurized dairy products and direct contact with infected animals.
“My study seeks to understand the role of different animals in the treatment of the disease,” said Akoko.
He notes that if one is infected with the disease, then it is important to understand the origin in order to address the disease conclusively.
“In many cases, we treat brucellosis without knowing whether the patient picked it from a goat, a cow or even a camel,” said Akoko. To address this, his study insists on interviewing the patient to understand the very animals they interact with, what kind of meat they eat and also the milk they take so as to know the target for vaccination.
Through the consortium, Akoko is linked to supervisors based in Kenya, Tanzania and Switzerland. “We coordinate through skype meetings, emails, workshops and even conferences,” said the researcher.
Other researchers are focusing on major steps towards elimination of rabies in Africa.
“There is evidence that rabies can be eliminated. But we have not been able to do it,” said Bonfoh.
The scientists are therefore involved in efforts to eliminate rabies in Tanzania, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire using an all inclusive e approach of ‘One health.’
“Governments need to take up the fight against these important diseases, which affect mostly the poor,” said Bonfoh. “But the problem has been that nearly all governments focus on priority diseases while neglecting some very important ones,” he said.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - African Civil society organisations (CSO’s) have raised concerns on lack of follow up and implementation of environmental policies by African governments.
In a statement to the 7th special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), the CSOs observed the need to move away from talk shows where policies are discussed but little or nothing is done in terms of implementation.
With reference to the theme of this year’s AMCEN, “turning environmental policies into action through innovative solutions”, the CSOs called for coordinated approaches in the implementation of activities, and avoid a stand-alone working culture by government ministries, which they said, was currently the case in most African countries.
They bemoaned most governments’ insistence on the top to bottom approaches and disjointed policy implementation.
“We have been part of this process for a long time and having policies after policies at both local and national levels but what we have had challenges with is how to implement these policies,” said Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). “It doesn’t matter so much that we meet every year and do a declaration, what we are looking at is how to put these issues into action.”
Citing the food systems sector, the CSOs urged governments to embrace innovations that link agriculture to all related natural resources and environmental management policies.
“We urge governments to link agriculture policies to land tenure systems, farmer cooperatives, extension and advisory services and adopt policies that allow small scale farmers to get easy access to farmland, integrating policies for national security such as export policies, energy policy, water policy, seed policy, post-harvest wastage, health of soils and organic methods such as Agro ecology,” read part of the statement.
And in support of addressing the perennial market access challenge especially among smallholder farmers, the CSOs believe the promotion of public- private partnerships and platforms in marketing of agricultural products among government ministries, could help farmers move up the economic ladder.
Another issue of concern for African CSOs, which formed part of their two day consultation prior to the AMCEN, is resource and waste management. Under this pillar, they called for life cycle approaches, urging governments to integrate informal sector such as private waste collectors into formal policies and laws, monitoring and promote the principles of extended producer responsibility and encourage take back schemes combined with financial incentives to encourage recycling programmes.
“We further urge the governments to integrate sound waste management practices at school curricula and integrate these into education policies to encourage attitude change,” they said.
And with the realisation that Africa was a net importer of goods and services, the CSOs called for development of a cost effective way of protecting Africans from chemical hazards in the imported goods.
“To regulate such, we urge African ministers to support the establishment of a new global framework for plastic pollution and nominate African experts to the ad-hoc expert working group on marine litter and micro plastics mandated by UNEA 4,” they proposed.
According to available statistics, air pollution is believed to contribute to over 9 million premature deaths (16% of all deaths globally), especially linked to inefficient waste management such as open burning.
On this score, the CSOs said they would like to see air pollution control as a high priority for African governments through integrated planning, health surveillance, and transparent reporting mechanisms, not only to slow the pace of climate change but also control non-communicable diseases.
The civil society organisations were drawn from across Africa under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).